Well, it’s been a sort of down week across Red Wings Nation, with the Wings not playing a game until tomorrow.
Yes, they were in Denver on Monday, but I wouldn’t exactly classify that as a game. They managed to pop in for a few minutes, but a GAME? No
And with the calendar changing over to 2011, and the season just about over, I’m going to go through and do a quick half-year player review. It’s easy and should be somewhat quick, and I need to post SOMETHING. (How many times have I said that?) So here we go.
Lidstrom (11-30-41): Lidstrom is apparently hoarding the fountain of youth somewhere, because he’s returned to early millennium form. Remember last year, when he had that terrible goal drought? Not so much this year. He is having a great year, both defensively and offensively, and will be punished for that by going to the All Star game.
Bertuzzi (7-20-27): Bert’s an enigma this year. Remember the heyday of the BFF line, and when our favorite kitty killer was leading the league in +/-? Something has happened that needs to be remedied soon. He’s still a solid player, but he’s gone quiet lately. Maybe he’s holding back for a late/post season run? Maybe he’s just burnt out a little after blazing out of the gates early. I don’t know, but I won’t count him out yet.
Holmstrom (11-11-22): Homer has been confusing me. He’s been quiet nearly all season long. He hasn’t been out there as much as I remember him being in the past. Usually, if he’s not putting up goals, he’s still making noise out on the ice, screening and agitating opposing goalies and defensemen. Right now, however, he’s making most of his noise in the form of referee’s whistles, leading Red Wings forwards in PIM, and second on the team.
Zetterberg (16-33-49): Is there any player in the league having a better, quieter year? He’s hardly been a take-over-a-game player, and yet he’s still among the best players in the league. Much like Lidstrom of years prior, he’s so good because he’s going to beat you quietly and you’re not going to notice until it’s too late. I have no problems with his play at all this year. Except that he burned my fantasy team a few weeks back.
Kronwall (8-13-21): Is anyone else as shocked as me that Kronner has played in every game so far this
year? Here’s hoping that I’m not a curse. Having played in every game so far, I’d like to see him being better than he has been so far. Maybe he needs a rest or something but he’s not as sound as he’s been in the past. With Stuart’s injury, we’ll need him to step up and lock it down better from here on out.
Helm (4-13-17): The last of the Wings to play in every game so far this season, he’s looking better as the season rolls on. Maybe he’s meshing better with his newest grouping of line mates, or maybe he’s been lurking on Twitter and reading EVERYONE’S comments about how that man needs new hands, because he’s been putting points on the board lately, and has been one of the best players on the Wings on a nightly basis for the past few weeks.
Salei (0-6-6): Forget those stats I just threw up next to his name, because he was never brought in to bolster the offense. The more telling stat is his +2. That, given Babs’ tendency to pair him with a lackluster D-man, is pretty good. He’s been solid. Both as a defenseman and as a brick wall, being one of the Wings’ more physical forces on the back end.
Franzen (18-15-33): Don’t look now, but Frickin’ Franzen has put more pucks in the net this season than notable goal-scorers Zetterberg, Toews, Malkin and Ovechkin. I don’t know how many votes he got for the All Star game, but personally, I think he deserves to be in more than probably 73% of the players that did get in. He’s the power forward the Wings have never had. He’s more Bertuzzi than Bertuzzi. And that’s not only a good thing for the team, but also NOT surprising to me.
Stuart (3-9-12): Our best non-Lidstrom defensemen and third string goaltender is out for 6-8 weeks. Before the bullshittery that was the entire debacle behind the hit that took him out, he was out there, banging bodies, breaking up passes and backing up our goalies when they were down and out. He is a presence that will be dearly missed in the upcoming months, and I’ve got all my fingers crossed that he’ll be back on or before March 11. But no later.
Filppula (10-15-25): Maybe it’s just me; maybe I’m just absolutely stupid when it comes to hockey, but has the play of Flip left something more to be desired to anyone else out there? I know he’s having, for all intents and purposes, a good year, but there’s something deep down inside of me that says there’s another level of play that we haven’t seen out of him yet. I like the kid, I like his game, but I’m not convinced that he’s reached his whole potential. With the injuries going around (like the one to his very own groin) I’m hoping he has that “11” on his dial that we can see when he comes back to playing at 100%.
Hudler (3-9-12): There is, to me, a problem when you’re supposed to be one of the premiere goal scorers on the team and you’re mirroring Brad Stuart’s offense exactly. I get the whole gunshy thing, returning from the KHL, but I have to think that when you’re being catered to by the coach to get you going, you’re going to have maybe, possibly, hopefully double digit assists. At least. The extra talent on this team should be added to by a player like Hudler, not Hudler’s play being added to by the extra talent on the team.
Miller (1-6-7): There are 2 things that Miller BARELY has more of than me this season. Grey hairs and NHL goals. Sure, he’s been a victim of the Leino Lounge/Klub Kindl (™ TPL) Shuffle, so I’m not going to rag on him as much as he would have gotten. Since the injury rash has hit the Wings, he’s become more reliable, with a point every 1.5 games or so. I alluded to it when the Wings resigned him over the summer, but he needs consistency to play consistently. So far, he hasn’t gotten it, so we’re not getting it. But I’m not going to complain, because he’s doing the best he can.
Cleary (16-10-26): This will come as a shock to no one who has ever read my blog, but I will not complain about Cleary at all. Not here, nor ever. He has played well over the level he needed to, and with my help, took over the team’s goal scoring lead until being taken out by an unfortunate Stuart slapper off the foot. Just like Franzen, Cleary has also netted more goals than Malkin and Ovechkin. Pretty damn good for a ‘3rd liner’, eh?
Ericsson (2-8-10): HOLY SHIT JONATHON ERICSSON HAS THE 4TH HIGHEST +/- RATING ON THE RED WINGS! But he also has the highest PIM. He’s more Bertuzzi than Bertuzzi, and not in the Franzen sense. Enough said?
Abdelkader (3-7-10): Abs is the other Red Wing that jumps out at me for hiding something. Maybe I’m just hopeful, or -as I offered earlier- maybe I am just absolutely hockey-dumb, but I think there’s a higher level of hockey in him that has yet to be unleashed. He’s in no way playing poorly, sharing the top +/- on the team, but I think this kid has something in him that can put up points at a higher rate. Maybe, in a year or so, as his role on the team changes, his play will change to include that. Or perhaps his play needs to change to change his role. Either way, I’m fairly certain there’s more to him that we should be seeing soon.
Datsyuk (12-17-39): Surprise, surprise, surprise, I’m going to draw a parallel between Datsyuk and Zetterberg right now. He’s so good, doing it so quietly, that you really only notice just how much he does for the team when it’s gone. His return to the team will instantly improve it. And it can’t come soon enough.
Rafalski (3-27-30): I don’t think Raf gets enough credit for what he does for this team. For as much as he’s been called out by other blogs lately for spotty, poor play, he’s still #1 on the team with a +12 rating, and he’s putting up JUST UNDER a point per game. I don’t think there’s much to complain about when looking at the big picture, but we can all certainly ask for a little more out of him while Stuart’s on the shelf.
Modano (2-6-8): Not exactly the way Mikey Mo wanted to make his homecoming season with Wings notable for, but once he puts down the Hawthorne Heights cds and comes back to the team, I hope his time on the injury list equates to a red hot close to the regular season and a long, productive appearance in the playoffs.
Draper (3-1-4): I have a love-hate relationship with the Wings’ donut goalie pioneer. I used to think he was past his prime and that he should have called it a career right next to Maltby, but I am more than happy to get the old “STFU” treatment from him as much as I have been getting lately. He’s playing much, much better than the 4 points may say, and I don’t care how much crow he makes me eat.
Kindl (0-0-0): One of 2 pointless Red Wings, he’s currently in the highest pressure situation of his career. Forced into the lineup by Stuart’s broken jaw, he’s 100% in a put up or shut up position right now. He needs to show that he deserves a spot on future Red Wings rosters, or quietly go away. I have no personal feeling for him as a player, I wouldn’t rather see him stay more than see him leave and vice versa. He’s just an entity on the Wings right now, but I’d love for him to make my mind up for me.
Mursak (1-0-1): One of the up and comers for the Wings from Grand Rapids, I really like what I’ve seen from him in the few games I’ve seen him in so far. He helps put my mind at ease knowing that if or when we get another injury string, he’s what we have coming up the pipeline. He’ll be a solid player on the big club sometime, and he doesn’t worry me at all right now as a call-up.
Janik (0-0-0): Another pointless Wing, and that goes both ways in this case. He was so completely underwhelming in his time with the Wings, his name became synonymous with “FAIL”. Coincidentally, he’s also number one on my Red Wings 2010-2011 shitlist not for playing pitiful, but for the pitiful display of pugilism he exhibited against Colorado.
Tatar (1-0-1): Just like Mursak, he was another player that wasn’t intended to be a Red Wing, but when he became one, he played like one. During his time up (sent back to Grand Rapids recently with the return of Filppula), he was more of an impact for the team than Hudler had been. Easily makes it to the list of Griffins I won’t have any problems seeing wearing the Winged Wheel.
This is an interesting part of the break down because while both are sitting behind 2.7 GAAs, one is having a renaissance year, while the other is having an “is-he/isn’t-he?” sophomore season.
Howard (22-7-3): Leading the league in wins and single-digit losses seems a little strange for a player allegedly in the throes of a sophomore slump, but the fact of the matter is that this somewhat qualifies for the old/young goaltender. We know he has better play in him, and while we haven’t seen it at all times, he’s still playing well enough to put up statistics that rival the majority of All Star goalie selections.
Osgood (5-3-2): Winning 50% of his starts, and putting up an absolute gem of a game to positively steal win number 400 in his career against none other than Colorado, he had been a pleasant surprise to the 2009-2010 Ozzie naysayers and a pleasant return to form to the 2009-2010 Ozzie backers. How will he play when he returns from his groin surgery? Is this going to be the last we see of him? Is this going to be the last we see him playing at this level? I hope this isn’t the way he closes his career, in the middle of a ‘is he even good enough’ controversy, on top of his ever-present HOF controversy.
Think I hit the nail on the head? Think I should just delete this post and quit blogging forever? As always, comments are appreciated.
Actually, comments are kind of desperately wanted.